Fast motor actions, cognition and adaptations

Human Movement Sciences University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)    
Supervisor: Prof. Egbert Otten PhD

Many of the fast motor actions that we perform in everyday life have become automatic and are performed using rules that escape higher cognition. That makes them fast and unloads parts of the brain that are used for different functions. In order to demonstrate this, several experiments will be conducted that include different loads, movement directions, pointing tasks that interfere with balance and body mapping using the visual system and the proprioceptive system. These experiments demonstrate our implicit assumptions about the task at hand and that these assumptions may be wrong. They also show our inability to compensate for the given errors, using higher cognition. This has direct consequences for motor learning of fast actions and the design of environments and devices in which reliable motor actions are required. The experiments also demonstrate strong and weak mappings of the sensory system onto the motor system. Those mappings make sense if we reflect on the the biological functions for which they appeared in evolution and developed during ontogeny. The results of the experiments may be surprising, which is an important condition and driving force for scientific research.